JURAVIN RESEARCH analyzed the universal problem that has hit Western Civilization: how do we get people to vaccinate their children? There have been a handful of legislative attempts but almost no avail. The anti-vaxx movement has been growing rapidly. More strenuous regulation is needed to solve the problem.
Question: What can the United States government do to help enforce vaccines?
Juravin answers that politicians and legislators need to put more laws in place to stop the vaccine crisis.
With measles coming back with a vengeance in the United States of America, some states are starting to take action by creating bills that force parents to vaccinate their children- even if they don’t believe in vaccines. Maine is one of four states thus far who is trying to fix things, alongside California, Mississippi and West Virginia. The bill has even gone so far as to not allow for religious or philosophical exemptions, which has many parents enraged.
The Hill reports that only a few days after the state of Maine saw its first case of measles in many years, Governor Janet Mills has supposedly already signed the bill, “ending most non-medical exemptions for mandatory childhood vaccines.” What this means is that it will now be up to doctors to determine if a child can go without vaccinations due to allergic reactions or other medical reasons. Juravin observes that many fear that this will cause a lot of issues, given it takes away partial rights of the parents to make the decision themselves. In addition, parents know that a medical exemption will probably not come easily.
While overall vaccination rates have risen over the past 10 years, the number of parents opting out of all vaccines has quadrupled. This has led to several outbreaks and has chipped away at the country’s “herd immunity,” which protects the population as a whole — particularly the most vulnerable — from infectious diseases.
Juravin found that officials are struggling to reverse this trend and convince parents to vaccinate their children. Some state legislators are reconsidering the “philosophical exemption” opt-out (still available in 17 states), while others have broached the idea of allowing minors to be vaccinated without parental consent. Others have suggested that certain government services — such as access to public schools and certain welfare programs — be contingent on vaccinating a child.
Yet many of these policies would only affect cash-strapped families — those who depend on government assistance programs and rarely have a choice beyond public schools. It does not affect wealthier families that can afford private schools. There needs to be a broader way to force vaccinations.
Families that rely on government assistance are just about as likely as wealthier Americans to make sure their children have the most common vaccinations. In California, the big clusters of children without vaccines live not in poorer ZIP codes, but in upscale locations like Sonoma and Marin counties.
Legislation and business ideas are the way to fix the anti-vaxxing movement. Conservatives and liberals alike could embrace public policies that encourage everyone — poor and wealthy — to vaccinate their children. However, while these strategies might put in place the rubrics, they might fail to completely solve the problem. Society can address that in other ways.
The pressures of money can eradicate part of the problem. Private health insurers should be allowed to impose a surcharge on parents who opt out of vaccines for non-medical reasons. Insurance always charges more when there is more risk of disease or injury. If there is a high chance that a child will get measles or whooping cough, it makes sense in terms of business to charge for the cost of treating that disease.
According to Juravin, current federal law may forbid insurers from taking pre-existing conditions into account when setting rates, but it does allow them to consider whether an individual smokes — and to impose a surcharge on that individual. Like smoking, refusing to have a child vaccinated for a non-medical reason is choice and can have monumental financial costs — one unvaccinated boy in Oregon ran up medical bills over $1 million — meaning that a surcharge on such a decision is justified.
Allowing insurers to impose non-vaccination surcharges would make evident the financial costs of not having a child vaccinated, potentially forcing parents to think twice before opting out. There should be more practical consequences to not vaccinating in order to make people ponder their decisions more fully. State regulations could limit surcharges to ensure they don’t put insurance itself out of parents’ reach.
However, there needs to be more put in place for parents who can afford the insurance hike and the fines. People in a wealthier bracket are just as likely to avoid vaccinations, and just as susceptible to the anti-vaccination propaganda. In fact, one of the bigger outbreaks of measles was in Disneyland, California, where children from upper-class families who were not vaccinated spread the disease.
Second, the federal government should fund and encourage states to set up and study vaccination-exemption monitoring programs modeled off existing efforts to monitor drug prescriptions. Currently, a tiny number of irresponsible doctors have embraced discredited theories about vaccines and offer “medical” exemptions to parents who simply ask for them. Unfortunately, there’s no way to spot these doctors, making them difficult to hold accountable.
Nonprofit org Holy Land Ministry conducted a 5 part extensive research of “Vaccination – Belief Vs. Science” and found that the anti-vaxx medical community is one of the most dangerous groups in the United States. They have the power to affirm and persuade parents to avoid vaccinations.
Taking disciplinary action against California pediatrician and anti-vaccine crusader Robert Sears, for example, took four years and probably happened only because Sears himself was so prominent in challenging mainstream science on vaccination schedules. In those four years, hundreds of parents were influenced by his malpractice. And in those four years, he released invaluable arguments for the anti-vaxx community to use in defense of their actions. No one asked why his practice was handing out so many waivers. But there should have been systems in place that kept him in check. There are not.
Programs could provide medical boards with a repository of information about doctors who provide vaccine exemptions. Doctors engaged in practices that routinely require vaccine exemptions — such as pediatric oncologists who administer chemotherapy — would be allowed to continue without any real changes.
But, according to Juravin, pediatricians with typical practices who grant many times more exemptions than their peers might have to answer questions about why. In fact, pediatricians with simple practices should not be allowed to simply write waivers to parents who demand them.
Another solution might be to require at least three doctors to sign onto exemptions. One alone might be subject to bias. A three-way verification process would help to filter out those who really can’t be vaccinated, versus those who should. This would also prevent a system from developing where a doctor and his partner can just write each other off. It must be three doctors from three different practices in order to have any effect.
Hammering out the setup and logistics of such a program will require additional work. As such, it would be useful to allow a few states to experiment in structuring these programs initially. Preferably, the programs should be instituted in states that are not currently struggling with a measles epidemic.
This would allow Americans to arrive at the right balance between ensuring that spurious vaccine exemptions aren’t granted and placing undue burdens on responsible doctors. In addition, this will also allow for the exemptions that need to happen, so that only the right people get vaccines.
Unless they have a sound medical reason not to, parents should always vaccinate their children. The government shouldn’t force anybody to get a vaccination, but it can — and should — do more to encourage all parents to do the right thing for their children and for society. There needs to be more positive reinforcement for vaccinating; there also needs to be more positive coverage of vaccines.
Tragically, Juravin reports that some people have had unforeseen effects and have even died around the time they were vaccinated. However, this is like car accidents: just because someone crashed their car does not mean that all cars should be banned. We cannot allow people in grief to make decisions for the rest of the world based on their grief.
Research DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3546465